Tactica Imperial Guard: Executioner

Tactica: Executioner Battle Tank
The executioner is a new tank choice for IG with the coming of their 5th edition codex. The turret mounted plasma cannon throws down 3 plasma blast templates per turn, costing you 190 points. The logical choice is then to add in the pair of plasma cannon sponsons, enabling the tank to throw down 5 blasts per turn, costing a total of 230 points.

Primary Strength:
1) This outfitting of the tank makes it hell on wheels (treads) for any expensive elite troop unit. Each blast has the potential to catch several models. If the unit is tightly bunched each blast can really touch a lot of models bases. The multiple blasts means that all are fired and models hit are counted prior to removing any casualties, which can really give some impressive numbers of hit models. This makes it a much more effective tank at removing entire units from the board than any other tank choice in the IG codex.

An example: I fire a demolisher at a unit of 5 terminators that have just deep struck and shot (yes this would be stupid of them). I can only get 5 hits. Maybe I wound all 5, but they will probably save one or two. If this were the executioner, its 5 blasts could accumulate up to 25 hits on the same unit. (unlikely, but possible). This results in a quite dead squad, as they will not make this many invulnerable saves.

2) The 36” range of the plasma cannons makes it more effective at supporting the remainder of your army. The tank does not have a need to move forward initially, and can stay back well out of enemy meltagun ranges.

3) The tank has AV 14 on the front, making it immune to a lot of weapon fire in the game.

4) You can move this tank on from reserve and still fire 4 plasma gun shots, making it almost as deadly as if it were initially deployed on the board.

Primary Weakness:
1)The cost! This tank comes in almost at the points cost of a land raider. If you lose the tank, you are going to likely feel it.

Many people compare the executioner to the land raider in cost. I honestly like this tank better than a raider. The raider must choose between the dichotomy of transport or shooting to be effective. If it tries to do both, it loses effectiveness for its points IMO. The executioner is on the board for one purpose – to annihilate what it targets and to draw fire.

2) With a rear armor of only 11, it is quite destroyable in hand to hand combat. You must take steps to protect it from assault troops, and you must make sure that melta-weaponry does not make it within its half range for the extra dice to penetrate. If it is assaulted, you will see this baby go up in smoke.

3) Even a glancing hit hurts the tank. If the tank is shaken, that is one complete turn you miss with firing the cannons. This tank is going to draw a lot of fire, especially from someone who has been hit by it before. If the enemy shakes the 230 point model, it loses its entire impact on the game for a single turn. You must take steps to keep it from being affected.

Don’t just buy the Executioner - you also need to purchase a Leman Russ with a heavy bolter to deploy with the executioner in a squadron. Now, you can deploy your Executioner out in the middle of the board with angles to kill anything that draws near and you will deploy the Russ obscured behind some large chunk of cover. Shots that target the squadron will first have to get beyond a squadron wide 4+ cover save since the squadron gets cover saves in the same manner as a squad (you just must realize that one tank cannot give another tank in the squadron a cover save by blocking LOS). If it is only a single shot (like a melta gun carried in a squad) you will always assign the blast to the russ. The beauty of this is that you resolve shooting squad by squad, so you can continue to allocate all single incoming shots to the russ. This improves the survivability of the Executioner a huge amount.

This combo makes the Exec. almost immune to lascannon and missle launchers. I am sure you know, or have read, how worthless a lascannon is at cracking a landraider. Now imagine that the landraider always had a 4+ cover save, and it was able to ignore any single shots coming at it for the game. If this combo works out and you are careful to protect the squadron, this is what you are offering the enemy to shoot at.

Additionally, if the Russ is destroyed, your executioner resumes its normal role as a solo tank.

What happens if fate pulls against you? I have lost the executioner once in about 7 games, now. It was certainly some lucky (or unlucky) rolling that pulled it off. On turn one a demolisher targeted my tank squadron, penetrated and I failed my cover save. The russ was exploded. I moved the exec into cover. A lascannon shot next turn, a penetrating roll, a failed 4+ cover save, and a 6 on the table later I was down 2 tanks. Of course this will happen if your opponent is hot with rolling 6’s on single shots – but it is extremely unlikely to happen. I was still able to eek out a win without the two tanks, but it was much tougher. It all my other games, the tanks have weathered this same type of shooting without the executioner even being shaken.

Favorite Moments:
I have been fielding only one squadron of tanks in my lists with this combination. I have toyed with outfitting two identical squadrons, but the points cost is huge. In every game where the tanks have survived they have killed at least 600 points worth of models.

It the last game against chaos daemons, there was a daemon prince of nurgle moving toward my lines. There was also a squad of plague bearers just behind him by about an inch. I had to down the prince first, so in an act of desperation I fired the exec. at the daemon prince. I wounded him twice, finishing him off, and also caused 8 wounds on the blood letters through scatters, which gave no feel no pain saves.

Against space wolves – A land raider filled with a wolf lord, 2 dogs, and about 10 blood claws pile out to try to assault a guard unit in cover. The squad had an insane number of power weapon and powerfist attacks coming my way. They roll a number too small to get off the assault and are stranded as they deployed out of the tank. One turn later saw about 20 plasma cannon hits, a leman russ hit, and 3 heavy bolter hits on the squad. Good stuff.